I’ve been training for my first half marathon (13.1 miles) since before Christmas, and my race weekend finally arrived yesterday. I didn’t sleep much the night before since I was crazy nervous–I was excited and apprehensive and relieved that the day had come, all at the same time. I double and triple checked my bag before leaving my apartment–I was so paranoid I’d forget something like my running shoes and completely screw up the day.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen!
My day started out a little something like this:
Sleepily waiting for the subway, with day only recently dawning. (Dear train mates, thank you for not minding me eating peanut butter and banana whole wheat toast in my sweatpants and running headband.)
And admiring the early morning sunlight on the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where the New York 13.1 was held this year. Soon it was time to head to…
Since this was my first marathon, I deliberately decided not to set any time goals for myself. I wanted to finish, and I wanted to run the whole time–no breaks for walking or stops along the way. I figured that was respectable enough for a first-time 13.1er, and if I did any more halfs in the future, I could try to improve on whatever time I wound up getting in this race. Well.
I finished in under two hours!! When Julie was so excited about finishing her half in under two, I never dreamed I’d be able to entertain that as an option myself, since I don’t consider myself nearly as well-rounded in the fitness department as she is. But I did it!!!
The first four or five miles of the race, I was feeling great. The weather was absolutely perfect–cool, so I was chilly before we started moving, but perfect for runners. There was a breeze, which was lovely (stay tuned for the reappearance of the breeze), and the course was interesting and fun. (We ran along and over several of the major highways in the area, as well as through the Queens Zoo, past the Arthur Ashe tennis stadium (which housed the U.S. Open for many years), and near the Hall of Science. (Fans of Men in Black may also remember this structure–another feature of the course!)
Around mile six or seven, things started to hurt. We hit the biggest hill of the course, and then we wrapped around a huge lake where very few spectators were on the sidelines (reading their signs and hearing their well wishes really boosted my spirits!). And at mile nine, my quads started to kill. Finally, before mile ten, I made an active decision to think about something–anything–else besides the muscle pain. Just keep truckin’ to the finish. This was slightly complicated by the fact that the entire last mile had me running into the wind around yet another lake (stupid bodies of water).
The thing that completely pulled me through from the starting gun to the final sprint was my half marathon playlist. A few weeks ago, I asked my close friends and family to “donate” a song to my marathon–an upbeat, fast-paced song that would keep me going, so they’d sort of be running with me for those few minutes of the race. I couldn’t believe how effective it was–I was conscious of picking up my pace when the first bars of some songs came on, and I know I looked like a loon when I was that girl playing the air drums to some songs blasting in my ears.
Dear Jenny, God bless you and your XXL cookies. This chocolate and peanut butter chip peanut butter cookie (YES I did say “peanut butter” twice) plus a DVD full of Mad Men episodes made the evening’s race recovery program (read: couch slouching) as perfect as could be. 🙂